As schools move out of online learning and transition to hybrid education –a level of open-ness where some students are in-person and some continue to participate via Zoom–virtual students are facing more and more challenges connecting with their peers. Students who are on a screen can’t connect with their peer at all if the rest of their classmates are in-person. This is something I’m sure many of us students have personally experienced last year–with so many students remaining virtual, schools have felt incomplete, with no way to perpetuate school spirit or keep community morale high at school.
So, what can we do?
With many administrations having their hands full with Coronavirus regulations, it’s time for us students to step up and address the task of building a sense of community around campus. Embracing our generation’s understanding of social media, we can incorporate technological platforms into channels of communication and engagement.
Let’s talk about a couple of common examples:
For instance, one of the staff writers at YGA, April, worked together with her school to set up a student-run Instagram account that hosted weekly competitions and “takeovers” –informal posts showcasing a part of the school community, for example a teacher’s daily routine or a science classroom’s lab experiment. To this day, the page continues to allow students and faculty alike to engage in an informal context and connect with one another, and now has over 600 followers – more than her school’s official page!
Another anonymous YGA contributor used the messaging app Discord to create a “server” for his high school. The server, which included different “channels” for text messaging as well as voice chats, became a hot virtual hangout spot for many students. As the server gained popularity, he also collaborated with the administration to elect student council representatives as online moderators, who made sure the platform was safe and rule-abiding, assisted by the auto-moderation “bots” offered by Discord.
Ultimately, discord servers and Instagram takeovers are only a small sample of the countless ways to help contribute to your community in these yet uncertain times. Again and again, we urge you to be proactive. Start your own school discord. Reach out your school administration and ask if you can help manage the school’s Instagram. But also be creative–thinking outside the box is never wrong! If you like baking, see if you can organize a virtual community baking competition. If you like music, try gathering some friends and put together a virtual concert! Above all, find your unique angle, and work together with your peers and address the issues that you see in your local communities. That is, keep taking action.
As stated by YGA’s mission statement, only through individual steps, can we truly change our future for the better. Remember – we are the future, and together, individually, we can make a positive difference in the world.